by Gale Horton Gay
Under the watchful eyes of their bursting-with-pride parents, the young men and women come across almost as princes and princesses with finery and manners to match. Cameras capture the moments as corsages are pinned and poses struck. Sometimes heads are bowed in prayer just before they enter the limousine headed to prom.
Oh, but once that limo turns the corner, many of these teens toss their manners and good sense out the window and go buck wild.
Limo drivers like Andrew Doyle have seen it all: Girls who appear docile in front of mom and dad but are anything but in the company of their friends; boys who seem like perfect gentlemen until they start referring to their female companions in less-than-flattering language.
Doyle is the owner of Above All Executive Transportation and Limousine Service and his Decatur business has been squiring young folks around on that all-important prom night for six years.
And while music occasionally has been a little crude and he has had to pull a limo over a time or two to address the behavior of his youthful passengers, Doyle said that most of the time most of the teens are having good, clean fun on a night they will remember for the rest of their lives.
March to May is prom time in DeKalb County, and Doyle, who anticipates being booked every weekend, is again preparing for a busy season.
Part of the preparation is having the teens he’ll transport sign a Prom Promise Agreement that spells out what’s appropriate behavior in his limo and what’s not as well as the consequences if teens cross the line. No drugs, alcohol, smoking, weapons and unruly behavior. And if the rules are broken, services will be terminated immediately and parents called to pick up their children.
Such agreements are standard among many transportation services with some outlining that parents will be called before any last-minute changes to the route are made and that teens are expected to respect the driver. The general contract also specifies hefty fees if clean-up is needed if a passenger gets sick ($250 for shampoo and disinfectant) or leaves the vehicle in disrepair ($300 for burn holes, rips or tears to upholstery).
Doyle said it’s never come to that, although he once had to pull to the side of the road and have a “man-to-man or should I say man-to-boy” talk with a couple of guys who were referring to their female companions in derogatory terms. The young men were embarrassed, returned to the car and apologized to the girls, he noted.
And aside from a little cuddling among teens, he also hasn’t had to deal with any inappropriate sexual activity. Doyle said while he gives other clients privacy, he keeps the partition between driver and passengers open for prom-goers “so I can monitor it at all times because they are underage.”
Doyle said it’s all about keeping the teens safe.
“It’s a very special night,” said Doyle, who added that he’s particular that drivers are courteous and well groomed, and vehicles are polished and have amenities that excite teens. He’s even gone so far as to coordinate school colors or prom colors with items in the cars such as napkins and glassware.
And it’s not always the teens who present Doyle with challenges. Sometimes it’s the parents. He recalled being photographed—even asked for a profile shot—by suspicious parents who have taken pictures of his vehicle’s license plate. One mother held up a group’s departure time by nearly an hour because her daughter was at the hair salon. The mother ended up meeting the limousine at a rendezvous point.
• Contact limo companies early.
• Ask to see the vehicle you are hiring.
• Contact the Georgia Public Service Commission to determine if the transportation company is in good standing.
• Have an adult negotiate the specifics of the services and price.
• Review the contract carefully.
• Request information on the driver.
- Source: Andrew Doyle, Above All Executive Transportation and Limo Service